We woke up on Good Friday in St. Louis, having survived a night at the Lehmann House, famed for being haunted. After a sumptuous breakfast cooked by our host Marie, we stopped at the Gateway Arch on the west bank of the Mississippi river to witness this engineering feat, before starting our journey to Nashville.
The Gateway Arch has a number of accolades: it’s the world’s tallest arch, the tallest national monument in the United States, Missouri’s tallest accessible building and the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere.
Designed by Eero Saarinen in 1947, construction began in 1963 and finished in 1965. The arch is clad in stainless steel and built in the form of a weighted catenary arch.
We’re taking the I-64 and I-24 route to Nashville, we spotted a sign for McKinney’s Western Store at Marion, so we diverted to see if we could be persuaded to buy some cowboy boots and hats!
This store was cowboy heaven, we had great service and friendly help from Darlene, who found us cowboy hats and checked shirts we could enjoy wearing on the rest of our road trip.
We planned a coffee break at Metropolis to see the giant Superman statue, it’s only a 5 minute diversion off our route at exit 37 on the I-24. The town looked like a movie set, it was quaint with some interesting stores including a Superman shop.
We bought cookies, ice cream and coffees at Sizzy’s A Sweet shop in lieu of lunch as a snack to keep going to Nashville.
It was much later than planned when we arrived in Nashville after 7.5 hours on the road including our two stops, and a time zone change from GMT -5 in St. Louis and GMT -6 in Nashville, we had covered 309 miles.
We were staying in a Best Western with free parking, at a mid point between the Opry and Nashville city centre for our overnight.
The Grand Ole Opry is about 20 minutes drive outside of Nashville, situated opposite the Opry Mall, a shopping & entertainment centre with plenty of free car parking spaces. Sadly we were too late to enjoy a meal at Claim Jumper which had been recommended and is within a short walk of the concert hall, so we grabbed a quick take away in the food hall instead. The other local tip we’d been given was to visit the Gaylord Opry Resort & Hotel for a coffee and to watch the boats going by.
We had a fabulous time at the Grand Ole Opry, there were 4 shows recorded in 30 minute segments. Eddie Stubbs, the announcer at the Opry for the past 30 years, has a fabulous voice, and was undeterred from his script despite the cheeky attempt from one of the Riders in The Sky. The atmosphere was brilliant and it didn’t detract that we only recognised one name on the programme (Vince Gill). Each act was a different style of country music, we had country music, yodelling, fiddles, banjos, stand up comedy and more. A guy in the row behind us likened a night at the Grand Ole Opry to buying a box of chocolates, as at the time of booking seats, you don’t know what the line up is for that evening, until much closer to the event.
The programme for the 30th March 2018 included:
19:00-19:30 Jeannie Seely, Lucas Hoge & Mike Snider
19:30-20:00 Riders In The Sky, Smithfield, Kieran Kane & Rayna Gellert
20:15-20:45 Bill Anderson, Chonda Pierce & Annie Moses Band
20:45-21:15 Vince Gill, Jim Lauderdale & RaeLynn
Jeannie Seely announced the good news that her best friend and country singer Dottie West who tragically died at the age of 58 years old, in a car accident on her way to perform at the Grand Old Opry, has finally been included in the Country Music Hall of Fame. We had noticed the simple white cross marking the crash on our drive into the Opry.
Lucas Hoge at the Grand Ole Opry we were very impressed with @lucas hoge he’s made our playlist for our roadtrip. It was his first time in the circle at the Opry and his latest single has just debut at no 60.
Mike Snider with Irish guest musicians, he joked that he’s still unknown at the Opry after 30 years.
Riders In The Sky, I enjoyed these guys with their humour and sparkles, they put on a great show.
SmithField (Jennifer & Trey) sang Hey Whiskey for the first time at the Opry, a song that took a year to write and is dedicated to her Mi Mi (grandma) about her relationship with her husband (Paw Paw) and a bottle of whiskey.
Chonda Pierce brought the house down with her stand up comedy act.
The Annie Moses Band is one talented family, who received a raucous applause for their Orange Blossom Special
Who knew that Bill Anderson at Grand Ole Opry wrote Happiness, the iconic song sung by Sir Ken Dodd? He paid an emotional tribute to the British legend during his performance.
RaeLynn (Racheal Lynn Woodward), who found fame after competing in The Voice.
Vince Gill from the Eagles, hosted the last segment of the Friday Night Opry show and he invited Annie from the Annie Moses Band on to the stage for the final act of the evening, which was well received by the audience.
A night at the Grand Ole Opry is a must if you can when visiting Nashville, it really does not disappoint, even if like us you don’t normally listen to country music.
Afterward the Opry we headed downtown to Broadway, it was 11pm and the place was rocking. We couldn’t park, the traffic was chaos, so a group decision was made to make do with the drive through and hit the sack.
The temperature has increased up to 62 °F we didn’t need to wear our coats and cold winter accessories in the evening, for the first time since starting our road trip.
In the morning we were departing at 8am for Memphis.
You can see our photo album here: Nashville
We didn’t see that much of Nashville as by the time we arrived, we needed to get ready to go out. The city wasn’t very impressive on the brief acquaintance we had – in fact it was the only place I felt a little uncomfortable during the trip.
I also have to admit I wasn’t looking forward to the Grand Ole Opry, as I’m not a country music fan. But I had the surprise of my life! It was a really excellent night out, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The acts on our night were superb – super talented and the kind of “old pros” who are totally relaxed in entertaining in front of a large audience. It’s very much and audience participation show, too – you really feel involved with the acts.
Even if you aren’t a country fan, I’d recommend a trip to the Opry, and if you do like the music, then you simply have to go – it really is the holy grail!